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Road death trend in the United States: implied effects of prevention


This study estimates road deaths prevented by U.S. vehicle safety regulations, state laws, and other efforts based on comparison of actual deaths to those predicted from temperature and precipitation effects on exposure, migration to warmer areas, population growth, median age of the population, and vehicle mix. Logistic regression of risk factors predictive of road deaths in 1961, prior to the adoption of federal vehicle safety regulations, state behavioral change laws, and other preventive efforts were used to predict deaths in subsequent years given the changing prevalence of the risk factors from 1962 to 2015. The included risk factors are strong predictors of road death risk. Without the preventive efforts, an additional 5.8 million road deaths would likely have occurred in the U.S. from the initiation of federal safety standards for new vehicles in 1968 through 2015.

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Thanks to Jennifer Brady and Claudia Tebaldi of Climate Central for their help in identifying the appropriate temperature and precipitation files.

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Correspondence to Leon Robertson.

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Robertson, L. Road death trend in the United States: implied effects of prevention. J Public Health Pol 39, 193–202 (2018).

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  • Road death trend
  • Vehicle safety regulations
  • Seat belt laws
  • Alcohol laws
  • Temperature
  • Emergency medical response